Big things with little cars

Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Ascona - Ein moderates Auto

I quite like the “Meh Car Monday” where they review modest vehicles of the not so distant past. And so for today’s Teutonic Tuesday, here’s a modest vehicle from Germany - the Opel Ascona. Not that this was the cheapest or slowest car on offer, but rather it was right in the moderate middle.


This is the “B” series Ascona, the second car to carry that name and this was launched in 1975 to sit between the small Kadett and the family-sized Rekord. Engines were moderately powerful 4-cylinder units ranging from 1.2 to 2.0 liters, and a Diesel option in some markets.

Whereas the first Ascona had been exported to the USA under the “Opel 1900" name, the DM / US$ exchange rate made that uneconomical and so Japanese Isuzu models replaced them in North America. However, the car was exported all over Europe and even assembled in South Africa with a Chevrolet badge.


The Ascona also had a mechanically identical but sexier coupe cousin - the Opel Manta, which looked far more glamorous. But we will leave that one for another day. Both were still rear-wheel drive, at a time when that was rapidly going out of fashion for moderate vehicles.


And the car was a big success in its own quiet way - over 1.2 Million of them were produced until August 1981, when it was replaced by the front wheel drive “C” series Ascona.

But the Ascona also enjoyed a moment in the spotlight: In September 1979, the Ascona 400 was launched - a homologation special sold only to make it eligible for the Rally Group 4 category. And in 1982, ace driver Walter Röhrl took the car to victory and won the World Rally Championship drivers’ title.


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